Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception, often referred to as Plan B, prevents pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. As physicians, we consider it an essential and safe option for women of all ages who want to avoid unintended pregnancy. Currently available emergency contraceptive regimens, such as Plan B One-Step, NextChoice, and ella, consist of a high dose of the hormones found in regular birth control pills. Emergency contraception prevents ovulation from occurring, but it has a time limit—the sooner a woman takes it after intercourse, the more likely it will prevent pregnancy. That’s why we urge the Department of Health and Human Services to lift the age limit on Plan B. Our patients deserve access to this medication, on drug stores’ open shelves, without age restriction or other unnecessary obstacles. No one should have to wait for Plan B.

Read about what we are doing to make emergency contraception available to more women.

In addition, for clinicians, we have written “Emergency Contraception: A Practitioner’s Guide.” Included in the guide is a comprehensive review of all emergency contraception available options.

Our doctors on emergency contraception:

Announcing the Newest Edition of Our Adolescent Health Curriculum

ARSHEPThe fifth edition of the Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Education Program (ARSHEP) curriculum is now available! ARSHEP is our nationwide educational initiative aimed at teaching physicians more about adolescent reproductive and sexual health. In 2014 alone, members of the 45-person ARSHEP faculty delivered nearly 100 interactive lectures and workshops to over 10,000 health care professionals across the country.

The latest curriculum consists of 20 modules—including three all-new topics—that offer comprehensive, evidence-based information about adolescent reproductive and sexual health care. Topics include long-acting reversible contraception; STI testing and treatment; caring for pregnant and parenting adolescents; pregnancy options counseling; caring for LGBTQ adolescents; emergency contraception; and physicians as advocates for adolescent reproductive health.

The ARSHEP curriculum is available in modules you can download from our website.

If you are a health care professional who works with adolescents or educates other clinicians, we hope you’ll find the fifth edition of the ARSHEP curriculum a tremendous resource. 

Physicians at the Supreme Court!

Dr. Lin-Fan WangOn Tuesday, March 25, reproductive health advocacy fellow Dr. Lin-Fan Wang stood on the steps of the Supreme Court and joined colleague organizations and supporters in speaking out on the importance of birth control coverage:

We are here because women are at risk of losing access to birth control. Not because it isn’t safe. Not because it doesn’t work. But because somebody’s boss may not like it. That is bad policy and that is bad medicine.

Read the rest of her speech here. And share this graphic on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #NotMyBossBusiness!

On Monday, Dr. Wang published an opinion piece on Talking Points Memo titled, “The Danger Of Giving Science And Religion Equal Weight On Birth Control Cases”:

When reporting on medical issues, weighing a religious belief as equal to scientific and medical evidence is disingenuous and confusing to the reader. And often there is no opportunity to correct misinformation. As a women’s health care provider, this disappoints and frustrates me.

Update: Watch Dr. Wang’s speech below.

Dr. Nancy Stanwood

On CNN.com, our board chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood coauthored an opinion piece with Dr. Jeanne A. Conry, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

As physicians dedicated to improving the health of women, we ask: Why is contraception still seen as controversial in the face of overwhelming evidence about its benefits? Why is birth control questioned, in this day and age, despite its widespread acceptance and use? In the current debate, science and facts are being drowned out by highly vocal and misinformed voices; as physicians, we must set the record straight.

Read the entire piece here.

Current Leadership Training Academy fellow Dr. Tania Basu published a piece on RH Reality Check titled, “Five Reasons Contraceptive Coverage Is Essential”:

As an OB-GYN and a patient advocate, I want to move the discussion out of the courts for a moment and into my clinic, to focus on the lives of women and their families. I feel an immense sense of responsibility to the women I care for, and part of that responsibility includes advocating for insurance coverage of birth control.

Another current fellow, Dr. Antoinette Danvers, published a letter to the editor in the New York Times:

Contraception is important for women’s health, freedom and equality. We have to protect women’s right to make their own decisions about contraception. I hope the Supreme Court agrees.

Yet another fellow, Dr. Luu Ireland, spoke to the Orange County Register (California) about the importance of contraception access for her own patients.


Medical Groups United in Defending Access to Contraception

Today Physicians, along with three major medical groups representing a wide spectrum of health care providers, are filing a brief in the Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius case currently before the Supreme Court. Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Nurses Association all object to the religious exemption being sought by for-profit companies.

An excerpt from the brief:

In short, health care decisions should be made by patients in consultation with their health care providers based on the best interests of the patient.  This is possible only when health care providers have the full range of options available to recommend or prescribe in accordance with the individual circumstances of each patient.  To allow the personal view of a remote party—the employer of a patient (or the patient’s spouse or guardian)—to play a role in a patient’s medical treatment would undermine the very nature of the patient-provider relationship and would cause wide ranging harms to public health.

Our press release, with statements from each organization, is available here. For some background, read our doctors’ stories about the vital role that access to affordable contraception can play in women’s lives. 

Our Advocacy Fellow: Plan B Efficacy and Weight

Dr. Lin Fan WangOur Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Lin-Fan Wang responds to the recent news reports on weight and its impact on emergency contraception efficacy:
As doctors committed to improving access to reproductive health care, we support women in having planned pregnancies. Working to make highly effective birth control methods (such as IUDs and implants) more widely accessible is an important step. However, there will always be a need for emergency contraception.   Several news outlets this week have reported on recent research about emergency contraception efficacy. This research indicates that levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception, like Plan B, may be much less effective at preventing pregnancy in women whose BMI is 25 or higher or women who weigh over 176 pounds. This is concerning because many women fall into those categories.